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South Korean minister resigns after handling ferry disaster

South Korean Maritime Minister Lee Ju-young resigned Tuesday after handling the aftermath of April’s deadly ferry sinking that claimed more than 300 lives.

President Park Geun-hye announced the minister’s resignation during a Cabinet meeting held at the government complex in Sejong, saying Lee’s dedication to the recovery efforts deeply moved the victims’ families and the general public, Yonhap News Agency reported.

“When the the minister was going through the most difficult time following the Sewol ferry accident, the victims’ families and the people were deeply moved by the dedication Lee showed toward the recovery efforts with every part of himself by remaining at the site in Jindo for 136 days,” Park said.

“I believe Lee showed the true image of a public official who must serve the public and expect him to play an even larger role for the nation wherever he goes.”

The 6,825-tonne ferry Sewol sank off the country’s southwestern coast near the island of Jindo April 16 en route to the southern resort island of Jeju.
A total of 295 people, mostly students on a field trip, have been confirmed dead, while nine remain unaccounted for.

The tragedy led to a wide-scale prosecution investigation into the cause of the sinking and a month long manhunt for the ship’s owner.

Prosecutors have said a combination of cargo overloading, excessive remodeling of the ship and poor steering were responsible for the disaster.

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